Comparing Tiffany and James Allen?
Wondering which is better or worse?
Perfect, you're in the right place!
In this Learning Jewelry guide you'll learn:
- Who's got the better shopping experience?
- Who delivers better value for the price?
- What do Redditors think about both companies?
- And much more!
Bottom Line Up Front: James Allen is a better online retailer of jewelry, with a more seamless, lower stress buying experience. Since they are an online only shop, James Allen can deliver a better quality product at a lower price compared to brand name brick and mortar shops like Tiffany.
Tiffany is a well-known name in the jewelry world. It has been the coveted name in diamonds -- particularly engagement diamonds -- thanks to famous wearers such as Audrey Hepburn and Lady Gaga, and has long been considered to be a name synonymous with quality, beauty, and status.
By comparison, James Allen is a rookie in the diamond market, having only been around for slightly longer than a decade.
Can James Allen hold their own against a company like Tiffany when you’re shopping for a diamond? Who is the better jewelry shop? Find out below.
Shopping Experience Comparison
Each brand creates a unique shopping experience that focuses on their core values as a company. Tiffany defines itself as a luxury brand and prides itself on selling only the most exquisite diamonds available, while James Allen has positioned itself as a diamond seller for all with a focus on quality, transparency, and affordability.
Both companies demonstrate these stances effectively in the shopping experiences encountered on their sites.
The Tiffany website is easy to navigate and beautifully designed. The search function is easy to locate and use, and this makes it easy to browse for different types and styles of jewelry if you have an idea of what you are looking for.
The site is easy to navigate, and the variety of rings and stones on offer is considerable and of the highest quality. However, custom orders require an in-store consultation, leaving the online consumer with only pre-designed options to choose from.
You will also be choosing your stone sight-unseen, as there are only top and side views of most diamonds and settings available, which doesn’t allow for a true visual of the stones before purchase. However, as Tiffany only sources the highest grade diamonds with excellent cuts, this is not a detractor for many people.
Since James Allen is an online only retailer, it's going to have to bring its "A-Game" with its website to compete in the jewelry market.
And they do... big time.
The James Allen site has a contemporary and fresh feel, with easy-to-find navigational tools, and an ability to start the shopping process from any point in the selection process.
You can choose to start with the setting, the center stone, or shop by setting type, or even metal color.
This variety in options allows you to start with the features you may have already figured out and build from there.
The ability to view James Allen diamonds in high-definition 3D images also makes the process of purchasing a diamond online less daunting, and reduces the need to thoroughly understand exactly what the different diamond grades mean.
You can see exactly what you are purchasing. Since even two identically graded diamonds will look different, this is an invaluable feature.
The Edge Goes to…
James Allen. The ability to view all of the diamonds and settings on offer as though through a jeweler’s loupe and from any angle makes the online shopping experience with James Allen the best in the business and gives you a good idea of the quality of item you will be receiving. The ability to create a custom ring from the comfort of your own home also gives them the edge in this category, making the shopping experience easy and convenient.
Customer Service Comparison
Quality of customer service on a major purchase plays a significant role in the decision-making process. An expensive piece of jewelry is no exception, and both companies have both favorable and unfavorable reviews.
Knowing how you will likely be treated if you need service after your purchase is a great way to go in with your eyes wide open as to the realities of what to expect should you encounter any problems down the road.
Offering email, phone, and diamond consultations as customer service options, Tiffany indicates that their customer service is available from 8 AM - 12 AM Eastern Standard Time (EST) Monday through Friday (source: Tiffany website) and 10 AM to 5 PM EST Saturday and Sunday.
Tiffany has a handful of negative reviews on the Better Business Bureau site, with the complaints ranging from stones falling out of jewelry to poor payment handling to lack of responsiveness when issues are reported.
For a company with more than a century of diamond experience, however, this is a small number to consider. Despite the low number of complaints, their lack of responsiveness to the negative reviews is concerning.
James Allen offers 24/7 customer service, with options to call, chat, or email them as well as participate in a real-time diamond inspection (Source: James Allen website). This always-on availability has become a standard for many online businesses, and it is no surprise to see it here.
James Allen also has a handful of complaints with the Better Business Bureau. However, unlike Tiffany, each of their complaints has been resolved or answered by the company, demonstrating a strong desire to address customer concerns.
Again, given James Allen is an online only company, if there are any concerns with a purchase, chances are pretty good the customer is going to go online to complain about it whereas Tiffany customers would likely first go to a store to get help and have a better feeling of control over situation.
There's definitely a feeling of lack of control for online purchases with no one to go and physically talk to if there's an issue, which is probably why James Allen has more activity on the BBB profile.
The Edge Goes to…
James Allen. Their responsiveness to customer complaints and obvious desire to resolve them to the customer’s satisfaction sets them apart long after the sale has been made. Their level of availability and reasonable response times is above the industry standard.
I'm going to give them a pass on the actual number of people who've complained, as that's not necessarily a good indicator of bad customer service but more so a result of them being an online only company.
Read also: The complete James Allen review
A piece of jewelry is only as good as its warranty. After all, what if something happens to it after purchase?
Peace of mind when it comes to protecting your investment is a piece of the shopping puzzle, and James Allen and Tiffany both provide warranties on all purchases. Not all warranties are created equally, however.
Tiffany provides a lifetime warranty on the grade of the diamond purchased, which is different than any other certification on offer as it gives very specific and detailed information on your diamond.
It is significantly more information than is provided on a GIA grading report. They also offer complimentary cleaning for the lifetime of your item, and provides free estimate for repairs. That the diamond grade will not change for the lifetime of the diamond does ensure that the value of your diamond will likely only improve.
James Allen offers free prong tightening, re-polishing, rhodium plating and cleaning for the lifetime of your piece. They also offer free resizing for the first year after your purchase. In addition, they offer free evaluations for repairs that are not otherwise covered under their lifetime warranty.
Read Also: How good is James Allen's customer service?
The Edge Goes to…
James Allen, though only slightly. Their customer service is a big part of why their warranty shines, and their dedication to providing quality products and addressing customer concerns makes us believe that they will stand by their warranty and their word.
The Tiffany guarantee that their diamond grade will not change for the lifetime of the diamond carries a significant weight in the buying process, and made them a strong contender in this category.
Price vs Value Comparison
When shopping for a diamond, you want the most dazzling diamond you can afford. Typically, this means choosing a diamond that has minimal inclusions (clarity), an excellent cut, is near or perfectly colorless, and is of a carat weight that you find acceptable.
Since diamonds come in a variety of options, this can mean a lot of comparison shopping in order to find exactly what you’re looking for.
You don’t need to be a diamond expert to make a great purchase, you just need to be willing to spend some time looking through your options.
Tiffany accepts diamonds that are “Very Slightly Included” -- which means very small or no inclusions under 10x magnification -- as the minimum clarity standard.
Their diamonds are eye-clean, meaning that you will not see visible blemishes or imperfections when viewing the diamond without a loupe or other magnification. In addition, they only offer diamonds that are colorless or near colorless and focus the cut of the diamonds on being proportionate as well as maximizing sparkle.
If you’re concerned about buying a diamond online, all Tiffany diamonds should be visually clean and have great sparkle even without seeing it in person prior to purchase. There will be no unpleasant surprises buying from them, as their minimum standards for the diamonds they sell are already quite high. This makes them a safe choice for purchasing online.
Tiffany has their own certification process, which guarantees that the diamond grade will remain the same for its lifetime. This grade has a direct impact on the value of the diamond, so is a certification that adds value to the purchase. The GIA certification, which provides diamond information for many retailers, does not carry this guarantee and even states that future inspections may not have the same results.
James Allen offers a variety of diamonds in each of the quality categories, with a focus on acquiring the best diamonds in each category. Their goal is to offer comparable-or-better quality diamonds at significantly lower prices than their competitors. Unlike Tiffany, they accept diamonds that have imperfections that are visible without magnification.
Each diamond they offer is able to be examined with their 360 degree HD view (image of that above), showing you what the diamond will truly look like based on more than just the 4C’s and a description.
Diamonds in the I1 category on their site (Included), for example, have visible blemishes in the diamond, which you will be able to see even without the assistance of a jeweler’s loupe. The 360 degree HD view allows them to reasonably offer lower-clarity diamonds such as these to buyers as they can see exactly what they are getting before completing the purchase.
The 360 degree view also allows you to inspect diamonds at the Flawless level, which should show no flaws in the diamond at 20x magnification. This allows for James Allen to provide many more budget-friendly diamonds, and to see the diamond you will actually be receiving rather than ordering something based on a piece of paper and hoping for the best.
James Allen diamonds can have a variety of certifications, including GIA (Gemological Institute of America), AGS (American Gem Society), or IGI (International Gemological Institute.) Each of these certificates contain information about the diamond being purchased, and each of these certificate providers is a trusted resource in the diamond market.
The Edge Goes to…
James Allen, once again. While Tiffany diamonds are spectacular, and arguably worth what is being asked, a significant part of what you are paying for is the Tiffany name (aka the brand).
Similar diamonds are available on the James Allen site without the high price tag, making them the clear winner when it comes to price and value. The James Allen experience also means you don’t have to be a diamond expert to get a beautiful diamond online.
The ability to look at the actual diamond you are purchasing via their 360 view means you will know exactly what your diamond should look like when it arrives on your doorstep. Since no two diamonds are exactly alike, this gives them a significant competitive advantage.
James Allen Vs. Tiffany On Reddit
In this guide, I specifically wanted to include a section about what Redditors thought of each vendor as they tend to be unbiased and unfiltered, perfect for an objective comparison.
Reddit is full of opinions, with diamonds and diamond-sellers being no exception. Taking to Reddit to find information on anything is often a great way to get the average person to way in and get a good feel for what you can expect.
Redditors largely agree that with Tiffany, you are paying for the name. They also agree that better jewelry deals are widely available via other sites, including James Allen. Former Tiffany employees have weighed in with their opinions, and they tend to believe that if you want to make a statement with a piece, a Tiffany product is a sure way to do so. However, if what matters most is not the name but a beautiful piece, your business may be best placed elsewhere.
James Allen, on the other hand, comes widely recommended. People have positive things to say about them, and even the few negatives that we came across appear to have had positive resolutions.
Both companies have their merits, and which camp you land in is going to depend on what you are looking for in a diamond. Are you seeking an heirloom piece?
Tiffany might be the way to go. Are you seeking a quality diamond that will last you a lifetime without breaking the bank? James Allen may have the one for you.
Our Verdict: James Allen
While Tiffany will always have a special place in our hearts (thank you Audrey Hepburn!), James Allen clearly takes the edge in this comparison.
With excellent customer service, excellent quality and value, and the ability to customize to your heart’s content, the newer kid on the block has so much to offer for the modern buyer.
Even the notoriously difficult-to-please Redditors are fans. We can’t wait to see what other innovations they bring to the diamond industry and the online shopping experience.
It appears you can’t go wrong with a diamond from James Allen, and can get a high-quality diamond that will be sure to please for years to come at a price-point that pleases your pocketbook.